Showing 411 - 420 of 435 annotations tagged with the keyword "Cancer"

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Narrated in the style of an "advice" manual, this is the chronicle of a woman who undergoes a hysterectomy and removal of her ovaries. The tone is sardonic. The story begins with the office visit in which the doctor delivers the news and reassures her that she is too "intelligent and sophisticated" to associate her womanhood with her reproductive organs. The physician attempts to persuade the narrator to have her ovaries removed--preventive medicine against the possibility of ovarian cancer--and she finally agrees while groggy from pre-operative anaesthesia. Nothing has prepared her for the emotional and physical lability she experiences after surgery. Even her sexual relationship with her husband is changed.

As she returns for post-operative check-ups, she becomes increasingly conscious of the indignities of the office visit and physical examination: "it strikes [her] that this maximum-efficiency set-up [three cubicles with naked, waiting women] might serve equally well for a brothel and perhaps already does." She feels that she has made a terrible mistake in allowing the doctor to have talked her into anything and that as a male, "there is nothing he can tell you about how you feel, for the simple reason that he does not know."

View full annotation

The Black Swan

Mann, Thomas

Last Updated: Feb-03-1997
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novella

Summary:

The setting is Germany in the late 1920s. Rosalie, the central character, is a "sociable," cheerful 50 year old widow who lives with her adult unmarried daughter and her adolescent son. Her manner is youthful but "her health had been affected by certain critical organic phenomena of her time of life." Rosalie is keenly aware of all that menopause implies: the loss of sexual allure and of a (biologic) purpose in life. She feels "superannuated."

Along comes a young man, well-built, who is the American-born tutor for her son. She is overwhelmed by physical attraction for him, becoming infatuated, much to the disapproval of her repressed, cerebral daughter. She feels young and attractive once more, believing that her heightened state of sensuality has resulted in the resumption of what appears to be menstrual bleeding.

Planning to declare her love to the tutor, Rosalie arranges a family excursion to the Rhine castle where the black swans swim. In the decaying alcoves of the castle, she does so; the pair will rendezvous that night. The rendezvous never takes place; Rosalie has hemorrhaged. She is found to have a large, metastatic uterine tumor.

View full annotation

Losses

Silbert, Layle

Last Updated: Jan-30-1997
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction — Secondary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A woman admitted to a hospital for cancer treatment describes her progressive loss of identity, from the trading of clothes for a hospital gown to her gradual hair loss. Feelings about the loss of hair (shame, embarrassment, nonchalance) reflect how she confronts the illness; in time, she is ready to face the world again.

View full annotation

Recovering

Sarton, May

Last Updated: Jan-30-1997
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Journal

Summary:

In this journal of her 66th year (one of several volumes of her widely-read journals) May Sarton reflects on the depression of losing a long, intimate friend to acute senility, on living with waves of loneliness in a life of chosen and beneficent solitude, and on a mastectomy which followed quickly upon diagnosis. She weaves together themes of friendship, especially friendship among women, mental and physical health, speculating on psychosomatic dimensions of illness, living with an aging body, and the ongoing issues of self-esteem that aging and solitary women confront in a particular way. Each of the 2-3 page entries is a complete and complex reflection, beautifully developed, and often pithy and poetic.

View full annotation

Annotated by:
Terry, James

Primary Category: Literature / Plays

Genre: Play

Summary:

Two radically different people find themselves together on a hospital roof garden, where they first come to terms with each other, then with their pasts, their illnesses, and death. Parmigian has a fruit and vegetable stand, a terminal cancer, and a bitter wit. Richard Landau is an investment adviser in fine art, fastidious, but haunted by his childhood escape from the Holocaust.

Only in for tests, Landau becomes forced to confront Parmigian's fatalistic view of the world. As Parmigian taunts and jokes, he draws Landau into his laughter and wild imaginings, as key weapons in the fight to stay alive.

View full annotation

Casualties

Massad, Stewart

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

An intern is on duty in a cancer ward. He especially deals with leukemia. He tells one of his patients that he understands how she feels as she cries, facing death. She turns on him, telling him that he can't possibly understand. A short time later, the intern grows weak and ill. He is diagnosed as having leukemia. He spends months in the hospital, feeling helpless as his old classmates treat him. He makes them promise to let him die peacefully when his time comes. He dies when an intern accidentally pierces his spleen while trying to tap his lung.

View full annotation

When

Williams, C. K. (Charles Kenneth)

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A wonderful poem about an old, dying man recognizing he is dying before any one else in the family will admit it. He wants them to help him die--a kind of family consensus on euthanasia, which he seems to control. After much family discussion, they agree to help him by giving him enough pills to "put him to sleep." He jokes with his family as they assist his dying: "On the day it would happen, the old man would be funny again: wolfing down handfuls of pills, 'I know this'll upset my stomach,' he'd say."

View full annotation

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

Terry Tempest Williams, a thirty-four year old Mormon woman and naturalist based in Salt Lake City, Utah, considers herself part of "The Clan of One-Breasted Women." Ten women of her family, including Williams, have been treated or have died from breast cancer. Is this just an example of the randomness of nature, or is it related to the fact that Williams and her family were residing in the "virtually uninhabited" plains downwind of the atomic bomb testing grounds from 1951 to 1962?

When her book begins, Williams' mother has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the book follows the next five years of her life and death. At the same time, the Great Salt Lake is rising to record heights, flooding the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and scattering the birds and animals with whom Williams has lived her life. The interplay of the uncontrollable elements of nature and the inevitability of life and death make this book an elegant study of "renewal and spiritual grace," and an excellent and unusual telling of a daughter learning how to grieve for her mother.

View full annotation

St. Peregrinus' Cancer

Hall, Judith

Last Updated: Jan-28-1997
Annotated by:
Ratzan, Richard M.

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A highly referential poem, "St. Peregrinus' Cancer" (eight stanzas of four couplets each) "may be most indebted to the arcane [book] Watercolours of Cancer Patients' Dreams (Phoebe Lord, M.D., London, 1964)" according to the poet. (See pg. 254 of the anthology for a description of the poet and her comments on this poem.) The poem starts with an image of St. Peregrinus (Laziosi, the 14th century Italian patron saint of cancer patients who was himself miraculously cured of a cancerous foot after a night of prayer) crossing a field and quickly moves internally to the poet's family and private world, describing her and her mother's cancers. A dense poem, it relies heavily on imagery and punning (the word "crab" appears twice in case the reader didn't get the reference the first time).

View full annotation

Summary:

These three short plays (approximately 30 minutes each) were commissioned for use in readers' theatre (see Commentary). Each addresses a specific patient/provider concern at the end of life. "Journey Into that Good Night" by Berry Barta is the story of a dying adolescent coming to terms with her mortality. Her physician demonstrates gratifying sensitivity in his understanding of her emotional struggle and the girl's mother progresses perceptibly in her own grief process in the course of the dialogues.

Marjorie Ellen Spence offers "Stars at the Break of Day," set in a nursing home where a middle aged man dying of cancer is confined. The reader meets a spectrum of elderly residents whose antics provide the humor necessary to keep the piece from becoming maudlin. There is discussion about assisted suicide as well as a view into one mode of accepting pain and impending, albeit untimely, death.

The third play, "Time to Go," by C. E. McClelland, is a fantasy which combines comic whimsy with a penetrating and profound sense of reality. The central issue is that of "letting go" of a son who has long lived in a persistent vegetative state following an accident. The victim's story is articulated in conversations between him and visiting "Friends" from another realm. Without introducing theology or politics, the conversations direct the reader to focus on the parents' reluctance to make a decision to discontinue life support.

View full annotation